[GRRN] San Francisco Panel Passes Coke Resolution

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Sat, 20 Nov 1999 04:15:10 -0500

San Francisco Chronicle
November 19, 1999


By Edward Epstein

San Francisco is girding for a battle with the giant
Coca-Cola Co. over the soft-drink maker's failure to
make greater use of recycled plastic in its bottles.

The Board of Supervisors Public Health and
Environment Committee passed a resolution by
Supervisor Gavin Newsom yesterday urging the Atlanta
company and its affiliates to start using more recycled
plastic in the estimated 10 billion plastic bottles it turns
out annually in the United States.

Like every other county in California, San Francisco
is under the gun from the state to reduce the amount of
material being dumped into landfills. It cannot require
Coca-Cola to use recycled plastic, but it could pass
legislation giving preference to recycled materials in
city purchasing, aides to Newsom said.

That would cover drinks sold in vending machines at
City Hall or San Francisco General Hospital, for

San Francisco now recycles 40 percent of its solid
waste. If it does not get to the state-required figure of
50 percent by the end of next year, it faces the
possibility of $10,000 a day in fines.

Plastic takes up lots of landfill room because it does
not break down over the years. Discarded plastic is also
dangerous to animals that try to eat it.

Coca-Cola was singled out in Newsom's resolution
because it is the world's largest soft-drink maker and
because environmentalists say Coca-Cola Chairman
Douglas Ivester has reneged on a 1990 corporate
promise to use recycled polyethylene terephthalate,
known as PET, plastics.

Newsom also said Coca-Cola makes heavy use of
recycled plastic overseas. ``Why not here?'' he said.
``They're wrong on this, and they know it.''

Newsom's proposal, which originated at the city
Environment Commission, will go before the full Board
of Supervisors on December 6.

The Grassroots Recycling Network has been trying
to get government entities across the country to pass
resolutions urging Coca-Cola to act. California agencies
that already have done so include the solid-waste
management agencies in Alameda and San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo County is urging consumers to put
55 cents postage on plastic two-liter Coca-Cola bottles
and mail them to Ivester.

Newsom said he will introduce another resolution
calling on other major soft-drink bottlers, including
Pepsi-Cola and Cadbury-Schweppes, also to use more
recycled plastics.

``Coca-Cola is the industry leader. They should be
leading by example,'' said Francesca Vietor, director of
the San Francisco Ethics Environment Commission.

Rick Best, president of the Grassroots Recycling
Network, said industry publications estimate that
recycled plastic accounts for 1 million pounds out of
some 800 million pounds produced for Coca-Cola
annually in the United States.

Coca-Cola spokesman Trey Paris would not say
what the figure is.

He said Coca-Cola officials came to San Francisco
recently to try to head off Newsom's resolution.

``It's all a little puzzling,'' Paris said of the pressure
being put on the company by San Francisco. ``They say
we're not using recycled PET in our bottles. The simple
fact is we are.''

He said the company is using a steadily increasing
amount of recycled plastic and has invested $13 million
in new recycling technology.

1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A26
URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-